Global technology enterprises and local roots: The case of jet engines


An important question is to what extent local subsidiaries of companies in highly globalized markets, subject to demanding quality requirements, are ‘footloose’ or locally rooted. A case in point for this setting is the development, manufacture and maintenance of jet engines. We studied the most prominent makers of jet engines in Germany, which are companies of entirely different types that would not be able to exist in the way they do without foreign headquarters and other sites, or without foreign alliance partners. To this extent, they are unmistakably parts of global companies, with high HRM internationalization in some technical and managerial brackets. But on the other hand, they are also marked by national and local profiles. The development of jet engine enterprises in Germany, and of the activities they have, have mainly been affected by the following factors:
- the types of clients (military versus civil) and engines they have specialized in,
- the embeddedness in wider partnerships or dependencies (consortia, sub-contracts, an owning MNE),
- the ability of local management to develop specific local strengths and attract further competencies within a partnership or the wider MNE.
For both enterprises, the German industrial setting undoubtedly had a positive generic effect. But for the specific path that either enterprise took, in its own specific way and in different directions, the development of locally specific competencies and its materialization within wider partnerships (case A) and the owning MNE (case B), were of overriding importance.

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Selected Publications

Sorge, Arndt; Rothe, Katja: Resource Dependence and Construction, and Macro and Micro Politics in Transnational Enterprises and Alliances: The Case of Jet Engine Manufacturers in Germany. In: Dörrenbächer, C., Geppert, M. (Eds.), Politics and Power in the Multinational Corporation: The Role of Interests, Identities, and Institutions, forthcoming 2010, Cambridge University Press.